Press Releases

Mystic Seaport Museum to Host “The Vinland Map Rediscovered: New Research on the Forgery and its Historical Context” Symposium September 21

Museum Announces Extended Run for Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga Exhibition through October 31

Mystic, Conn. (September 6, 2018) — Mystic Seaport Museum will host a symposium on the latest research and scholarship concerning the controversial Vinland Map. “The Vinland Map Rediscovered: New Research on the Forgery and its Historical Context” will take place on September 21 in the Masin Room of the Thompson Exhibition Building on the Museum’s grounds in Mystic, Conn.

Held in conjunction with the ongoing exhibition, Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga, this symposium will present an international roster of scholars on various aspects of the Vinland Map story, including results of new scientific testing, the map’s role in history and scholarship, medieval Norse sagas, and the archaeology of the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America.

The exhibition explores the stories around and behind the publication in 1965 of a scholarly examination of a piece of parchment known as the Vinland Map. Publication of the map threw into question the long-held belief that Christopher Columbus was the first European to reach American shores, in 1492. At the time, the map was dated by Yale researchers to about 1440, igniting a firestorm of debate about the moment of first contact. The exhibition is the first public view of the map in the United States outside of New Haven, Conn., in more than 50 years. The Museum also announced the exhibition will extend its run an additional month through October 31.

The symposium will begin at 9:45 a.m. with opening remarks by Nicholas Bell, senior vice president for Curatorial Affairs, Mystic Seaport Museum, and Raymond Clemens, curator of Early Books and Manuscripts, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Following the introduction, the day will be broken into morning and afternoon sessions. This program will be live-streamed on YouTube Live.

Morning Session, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  • Karen Kupperman, Silver Professor of History (retired), New York University
    “From Speculation to Acceptance: Viking Settlements in North America”
  • Birgitta Wallace, senior archaeologist (retired), Parks Canada
    “L’Anse aux Meadows: The Gateway to Vinland and its People”
  • David Bradbury, independent historian
    “The Vinland Map and the Realities of Expertise”
  • Raymond Clemens, curator of Early Books and Manuscripts, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University
    “The Impact of the Vinland Map on Medieval Cartography”

Afternoon Session, 1:30-4 p.m.

  • Jesse Meyer, co-owner, Pergamena Leather & Parchment
    “Beneath the Ink: What Can We Learn from the Parchment of the Vinland Map?”
  • Paula Zyats, assistant chief conservator, Center for Preservation and Conservation, Yale University Libraries
    “Materials and Techniques of Medieval Manuscripts”
  • Richard Hark, assistant conservation scientist, Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, Yale University, and H. George Foster Professor of Chemistry, Juniata College
    “Navigating the Materiality of the Vinland Map and Associated Manuscripts: New Insights from New Scientific Tools”

The symposium is free for Museum members and free with Museum admission for non-members. Pre-registration is recommended, as space is limited. Registration can be made by calling 860.572.5331.

This program is made possible through support from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Science, Myth, and Mystery: The Vinland Map Saga is made possible through support from:

A grant from the Vietor Family in memory of their father, Alexander O. Vietor, Connecticut Humanities, Anonymous, William H. Donner Foundation, Robert & Cynthia Martin, ABCNEWS VideoSource.

About Mystic Seaport Museum

Mystic Seaport Museum, founded in 1929, is the nation’s leading maritime museum. In addition to providing a multitude of immersive experiences, the Museum also houses a collection of more than two million artifacts that include more than 500 historic vessels and one of the largest collections of maritime photography. The iconic Thompson Exhibition Building is a state-of-the-art gallery that is hosting The Vikings Begin: Treasures from Uppsala University, Sweden through September 30, 2018. Mystic Seaport Museum is located one mile south of Exit 90 off I-95 in Mystic, CT. For more information, please visit https://mysticseaport.wpengine.com/  and follow Mystic Seaport Museum on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Instagram.